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Forces War Records Blog

WWII SPITFIRE TO BE UNEARTHED IN WILTSHIRE

Blogger: GemSen I was watching the local news the other evening when a particular feature caught my attention — a Spitfire shot down during WWII, over Wiltshire, is to be dug up by a team of archaeologists, injured soldiers and veterans.

The project, called 'Tally Ho', is being undertaken by an initiative established by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and The Rifles. The MK1a Spitfire P9503 was apparently brought down on 27 October, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. Pilot Officer, Paul Baillon, serving with 609 Squadron apparently baled out of the MK1a Spitfire P9503 after damage to the plane's oil tank meant his visibility was severely reduced and he could not land safely, reported 'This is Wiltshire'. PO Ballion, from Northamptonshire, managed to survive the Battle of Britain but was shot down and killed over the English Channel, weeks later on November 28, 1940. His body was eventually washed up on the French coast. He is buried in the Bayeaux War Cemetery. The pilot's daughter, Rosemary Baillon, who never met her father, is also on site to watch the dig. She told the newspaper: "At the first threat of war, my father joined the Royal Air Force volunteer reserve and learned to fly at Sywell, Northamptonshire. "It was on October 27 1940 that my father was brought down by enemy aircraft near Upavon. "This was a particularly worrying time for my mother who was expecting me to be born in the March of the following year." Archaeology is all about people The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and The Rifles who are running the project helps injured personnel return to their regiment or prepare for civilian life. Richard Osgood, DIO's senior historic adviser said: "The Protection of Military Remains Act protects these sites and it is important that they are considered properly. "Archaeology is all about people - whether they be prehistoric, Roman or Saxon," he said. "This site has yielded traces relating to the sacrifices of airmen from the 1940s and it has been a real privilege to re-tell the story of Paul Baillon.” The Forces War Records team are off to Duxford Airshow in Cambridgeshire on Sunday and we are looking forward to seeing a few Spitfires in the flesh there. If you can’t make it along to the show yourself, or are generally interested in the Spitfire then read on for some more detail on this amazing aircraft: Supermarine Spitfire The Spitfire was designed by Reginald J. Mitchell, creator of the magnificent Supermarine seaplanes. It has a sleek, graceful fuselage with a domed canopy and small, angular fin and the Type 224 was a gull-winged monoplane with a fixed “trousered” undercarriage, powered by a 600-h.p. Rolls-Royce engine. Mitchell was dissatisfied with it even before it flew. He then designed a new aircraft as a private venture and the conception was revised twice, to incorporate the new P.V.12 (Merlin) engine and an eight-gun battery. The final design was accepted by the Air Ministry in January 1935 and the first prototype flew on 5th March 1936. The first order for 310 machines was placed three months later, followed by a further 200 the following year shortly before the tragic death of its designer at the age of 42. Between August and December 1938 No. 19 Squadron at Duxford was equipped with the Spitfire Mk.1. By the outbreak of war nine squadrons were fully equipped and two others were in the process of conversion. A total of 1,583 Spitfire Is were built. Deliveries of the Mk. II (basically a Mk. I powered by a 1,175-h.p. Merlin XII) began in June 1940, but widespread re-equipment with the new version did not commence until the following winter, and it was the Mk. 1 which bore the brunt of the fighting during the Battle of Britain; by July 7th nineteen Fighter Command Squadrons were operational with the type. Powerplant: One 1,030 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin III twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled engine Span: 36ft 11 in (11.25m) Length: 29ft. 11 in (9.12m) Max Speed:362 mph (584km/h) at 19,000 ft (5,790m) Armament: Eight .303 in Browning machine guns mounted in wings  Accommodation: Pilot only Source: This is Wiltshire & RAF log on to Forces War Records and search our vast collection of records to find out more about your own ancestors  – there could be a war hero in your family just waiting to be discovered, and remembered…
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